I have been involved with Belgian Shepherds since 1987 with the purchase of my first purebred dog, Gilly (Ch Torbrook’s Gilda CD). Initially concentrating on conformation shows, I eventually branched out into some obedience training and trialing successfully putting a CD on Gilly and trialing unsuccessfully at CDX with her daughter, Gina. As happens when working with bitches, Gina’s turn in the whelping box took precedence over her obedience career and she ended up having to be spayed due to complications and was placed in a pet home.
But, truthfully, obedience scared me. Conformation seemed safer and less intimidating, so for the next few years I took obedience classes training with Kevin George of Sentry Dogs, Carol Williams, Derek Di Ciacca at Companion Dogs. I learned lots but was still apprehensive of obedience trials.
At this time I was raising kids, raising and showing Belgian horses and working full time, something had to give and it was the dogs. I took a six year hiatus from the dog world, very little training or showing. We still had a few dogs but they were the farm pets. In 2007 we decided to retire from the draft horse world of showing and breeding and I eagerly returned to the dogs. And then in 2008 I discovered rally..
I knew my dogs needed to do more and rally seemed to fit the bill for me. I was able to be positive and upbeat in the ring with them and they seemed to enjoy the variety that rally offers.
Since then I have taken classes from a variety of people but I credit Mary Martineau in getting me started in Rally. And once you have the basics it is all about practice.
In the last ten years I have put CKC and AKC Rally Novice titles on four dogs. Rally Intermediate on one dog, Rally Advanced on two dogs and Rally Excellent and Rally Advanced Excellent on one dog. I have also gone back into the obedience ring with my two younger dogs achieving a CKC CD and UKC CD with a HIT on one. The youngest dog recently attained his first AKC CD leg at the Belgian National in Missouri and will be competing at the Canadian National in August 2018.
There is something to be learned at every class, if not from me then from another student or dog. I like to learn to do by doing but also by watching. In my class I hope I can help lay the foundation for teamwork between dog and handler and create some excitement for the sport of rally.